How to Attain Excellence in Your Spa

When I see the following five items in practice inside a spa, I am impressed. The business of spa has to dominate the luxury of spa, now more than ever. And if you're in the minority and have instigated even one of these Top 5 Inspirations, congratulations! And keep the momentum going by moving onto the next challenge, and then the next, until you have addressed the tough demands that running a sustainable spa business will put on in 2011, and onwards.

Inspiration #1 - Great Leadership 
I know a great leader when I see one.  They've taken on the role to inspire and lead by example.  Their active, positive involvement encourages their staff to become more respectful; tolerant; open-minded; and agreeable to processes and expectations.  Their staff may even endure a slightly lower pay scale; a bit of a commute into work; and less than ideal surroundings, because their leader is also their mentor.  These leaders, gifted and rare individuals, have avoided judgmental behaviors and lack of support because they have probably dedicated 50-60% of their day on their staff.  They have earned their MBWA degree (Management by Walking Around - Hewlett Packard) and are proof that when you are there for your staff, good business will follow.  Great spas ALWAYS stem from great leadership.       

Inspiration #2 - Branded Marketing
When I see a business that has exceptional visual branding, I am spontaneously drawn in with excitement.  But I have learned over the years that short term visual appeal is not enough to hold long term client appeal.   Many spa owners have their visual image developed before they open their doors, including decor and marketing materials.  And they have trained their staff on behaviors and techniques that will represent the guest experience, so they believe that they have branded the business.  But the thing about branding is that it's very wise and soulful, and sometimes takes time to reveal its true self.  It may change direction many times over and even misguide you.  But then all of a sudden, one day it smiles back at you in the mirror, and you find your footing together.  Decisions are made easier; you know when to say "yes", and more importantly, you know when to say "no" - your brand has come alive within your business.  Don't be afraid to learn your brand and its personality.  But know that it is a demanding friend.  When it reveals itself to you, it will expect you to promote and market it graphically; aggressively; and repetitively and never deviate from it.   

Inspiration #3 - Well Run Business Systems 
Scripting your staff; developing service protocols and full operational procedures, is a monumental task.  So when I witness a spa running like a fine-tuned machine, I am in absolute awe.  More often than not however, I see portions of the business running well, while other areas may be suffering.  Management is usually responsible for installing the business systems, but what if you're a small business and you're also the Leader, and on top of that, still servicing a clientele?  Small business, or large, if you are lacking these standards, the easiest way to approach this assignment is to purchase generic Standard Spa Operating Procedure manuals, and start NOW, it's never too late, or too soon.  Work with your clerical staff on these generic prototypes to eventually develop your customized SOP Manual.  Allow the manual to be a "work in progress", with ongoing modifications and upgrades until it becomes a comprehensive training and reference tool for both you and your staff.  Train and re-train staff as the business evolves and very importantly, always uphold these procedures with ongoing staff support and tools.  Focus on the end result; give this manual time to develop; and you too can have a well run business. 

Inspiration #4 - Knowledge of Finances 
When you manage your finances; you are better able to control your business outcomes.  Ignoring what the numbers are telling you, doesn't mean everything is ok.  Bill Cosby once said, "Just because you don't know you have it, doesn't mean you don't have it".  He was referring to physical illness, but it's the same thing; closing your eyes to a possible problem doesn't mean it's not there.  The business owner who knows the difference between revenue and profit; and an Income Statement and a Cash Flow Statement, is my hero.  And even better yet, a spa that is using Yield Management techniques is absolutely stellar in my eyes.  Yield management is knowing what your best mix of services and products are and how and when to sell them in order to generate the highest revenue and profit.  Take this important step and make the numbers a part of your future.  I promise the results will prove to be inspiring (or a lesson learned)!  Either way, you MUST know.

Inspiration #5 - A Maintenance and Growth Plan
A smart spa owner has plans in place to gain; retain; and grow staff; clients; and overall business outcomes.  And an even smarter spa owner makes these goals measurable.  Big spas will quite often have these kinds of plans in place, and it's always interesting to note that accomplishing the goal is often achieved with the same technical approach.  At Spas2b, we believe there are basically 5 steps to achieving almost any goals you set your mind to - with FOCUS being the key ingredient. For example, you may say "I am going build my client base by 500 clients this year".  So you might:

  1. Set plans for achieving the goals by determining the methods you will use to build your client base;
  2. Design the plan so that it can be measured mathematically, by reasonably calculating the number of new client's you'll need to attract each month in order to attain your goal;
  3. Decide on who's accountable for meeting the plan by assigning specific staff to the task;
  4. Pro-rate and then allot corresponding achievement timelines over the period of plan so that you know if you're on target, which will help you control the outcome; 
  5. Measure your tangible outcomes at the end of the plan campaign (and then reward successful outcomes). 

Being able to measure the outcome with numerical values is the only way you'll know if you were successful.  So don't just hope for a year over year increase, set your sights on it (FOCUS) and you CAN make it happen!

By Leslie Lyon, Spas2b,